Property Crime Increasing in Post-Reform Davis

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Property crimes have increased post-AB 109 and Prop 47 in Davis
Property crimes have increased post-AB 109 and Prop. 47 in Davis

Earlier this week, the Vanguard called for additional police resource for the city of Davis. The Vanguard called for an equalization of pay between police and fire, revision of recruitment efforts, and hiring additional police officers.

The Vanguard this week sat down with Assistant Chief Darren Pytel and this is the first of a three-part series that looks into crime, recruitment, and staffing for the Davis Police Department.

There has been a lot of concern about the impact of AB 109 which was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. The bill created a program known as realignment, which transferred low-level offenders from state prison to local custody. The law also created split sentencing guidelines that mandate post-custody mandatory supervision as part of the effort to rehabilitate offenders with community-based programs once they are released from custody.

Three years later, the voters overwhelmingly approved Prop. 47, which reduced the penalty for non-violent offenses, such as drug offenses and petty theft, to misdemeanors.

One of the key points that Assistant Chief Darren Pytel raised in our interview was that it is really too soon to gauge the effect of either law on the crime rate. A preliminary study that the Vanguard cited recently, from a year ago, concluded that there was no statewide pattern between AB 109 realignment and crime. A study from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice found “no conclusive trends demonstrating a causal relationship between Realignment and crime, even among counties in close geographic proximity.”

They concluded, “The lack of a clear pattern—in fact, it is hard to imagine a pattern that is more ambivalent and complicated—indicates the perils of drawing hard conclusions about a single, albeit important, public policy change such as Realignment based on short-term crime trends.”

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Recently a reader has cited anecdotally a number of violent crimes in Davis and expressed concern about the increase of such crimes. However, Darren Pytel told the Vanguard there is “no spike in violence crimes in Davis.” Woodland is seeing a spike. But “what we’re seeing is what we predicted we’d see.”

The 2011-2014 crime data shows that there is no pattern in data, with higher violent crime totals in 2011 (prior to AB 109) and 2013 but lower totals in 2012 and 2014. And, as noted, there is no spike in 2015.

On the other hand, both West Sacramento and Woodland have seen spikes in violent crime rates.

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Instead, what Assistant Chief Pytel says Davis is getting killed with right now is larcenies. The data from the county shows that Davis suffers a relatively high rate of property crimes when compared to West Sacramento. Those numbers, however, were fairly steady – except in 2013 when Davis saw a huge spike in the first part of the year.

Assistant Chief Pytel told the Vanguard that what tends to happen is that they catch prolific thieves and the crime rate goes down, but then it goes back up.

One thing they are having a particular problem with is bike thefts. He said that people are coming in from out of town, loading up on bikes. They used to recover a lot of these bikes, but that is now changing. They are seeing an increase in higher-end thefts – and they have gotten some back on Craigslist, but a lot of the bikes have left the area.

Assistant Chief Pytel told the Vanguard, “It is concerning, I don’t think it’s necessarily new.” Property crime has been bad for 30 years. Davis, he said, has “always had a high larceny, burglary rate.”

As stated, they have had some success with catching these thieves at times and the rates have gone down, but after a few months someone else moves in and the incidents tick back up.

None of this is particularly surprising. What Darren Pytel told the Vanguard is that who is going to prison has changed significantly because of AB 109 and now Prop. 47. The problem, he said, is drug related. A whole bunch of people who are using, he says, then steal to support their addiction.

The low-hanging fruit is the drug use. It is fairly easy to catch someone in possession of drugs. Under the old rules, for the second offense, the offender would go into custody for 18 months to three years. But now, with Prop. 47, those are misdemeanor offenses and most are not going into custody at all.

Assistant Chief Pytel told the Vanguard it is far more difficult to catch someone committing a theft. The result is that, with the decrease in incarceration for drug offenses, the number of thefts and burglaries has jumped up.

If they can deal with the drug portion, it has a major impact on property crimes. So, according to Darren Pytel, the early impact of AB 109 and Prop. 47 is not an increase in violent crime in Davis, it is an increase in property crimes.

He told the Vanguard that, other than Los Angeles county, no one has really looked at where we are at with all of the changes. Short term, they believed that property crimes would go up and that has played out. But longer term, it will take time for the back end of the system to work out recidivism.

Darren Pytel actually suggested that we might be able to really know the impact all of this eight years down the line. It is not just the sentencing reforms, it is also the freeing up of resources for post-custodial services.

For instance, the early studies have shown a relationship between spending on re-entry services and a positive impact on recidivism. But prison officials believe that it will require three years’ worth of data to study recidivism rates and most counties are complaining that they haven’t been provided adequate resources to handle the influx to their jails.

Earlier this year, Yolo County DA Jeff Reisig noted, “It was also assumed that there would be money for treatment, but that’s not true. There is no money from Prop. 47 until potentially 2016, and even that is yet to be realized.”

However, there is a belief that down the line, once these resources are more clearly defined, the programs will begin to eat away at the 70 percent statewide recidivism rate that we face and crime rates will start to drop.

Assistant Chief Pytel warned that, until they actually deal with issues such as alcohol abuse and drug abuse, there will be no headway on larcenies and property crimes. In the short term, therefore, property crime rates will go up, but if everyone does their job, he said, they will reduce recidivism and these programs will have a chance to work.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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12 thoughts on “Property Crime Increasing in Post-Reform Davis”

  1. Tia Will

    David

    I have a comment and a question.

    The comment is my appreciation for our Davis police department’s choice to use an evidence based approach rather than making claims based on a superficial and facile look at seemingly “increased numbers”. I thank our police leadership of Chief Black and Assistant Chief Pytel for their efforts in adhering to a factual and evidence based approach.

    The question is with regard to the relative change in population of each of the communities you have listed over the same amount of time. Would it be possible for you to present graphs of population for each community in the same format as the crime graphs you have posted for each year ?

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      To answer your questions – The report I pulled those graphics from does not have that information. I’d have to do some research.

  2. Frankly

    There we have it.  Our bleeding hearts and social justice crusaders just caused us to have to pay another tax for their “save people from themselves” policies.  This time the tax is more of our property being force-“donated” to theives with drug problems.

    1. Davis Progressive

      what if it in the longer term decreases recidivism – will the short term period of adjustment have been worth it?

      also the old system was to go the prop 36/ pc 1000 route with drug programs and then the next offense was prison for 18 to 3 months at a cost of 75 to 150k. talk about a tax, mr. frankly.

  3. Miwok

    I can only say that if they let out drug addicts or users who steal to support their habit, and they continue to steal, some of them will die trying. People are not going to put up with thieves and just as some high profile cases we have been seeing, the Police will have to defend themselves, or a citizen will against these criminals.

    You can quote all the statistics you want, and Asst Chief Pytel can tell us we will just have to endure this, but I know some people who won’t be so understanding.

    I don’t think it’s necessarily new.” Property crime has been bad for 30 years. Davis, he said, has “always had a high larceny, burglary rate.”

    Nice legacy for the Police to have. As long as the wrong person doesn’t get arrested or killed.

    1. Barack Palin

      I guess we’re just supposed to take the attitude of Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake who stated,

      “Let them loot, it’s only property” 

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        I think the Assistant Chief laid out some good alternatives, but I think it is important to realize that the overall change isn’t that great and we won’t see the kind of numbers we saw in 2013.

    2. David Greenwald Post author

      This is the first of a three part series just based on my conversation with Pytel. And I’m planning to do a follow up with a special unit. The bottom line is that there is a plan for how to deal with the issue in the interim.

    3. Davis Progressive

      the way we handled things before is that we would arrest someone, house them in county, they would plead to a pc 1000 or prop 36 drug treatment which had mixed success and then the next time, we would throw them in prison for up to 3 years (which is between 75 and 150K per year).  they would get out and offend again.  so why not instead of throwing that money away (talk about a tax frankly), we put it into programs  – two year residential, job training, and the like – and you can cut recidivism in half?

      1. Napoleon Pig IV

        I agree. This makes good sense. In addition, policies should be based on what is actually right and wrong and what actually works and doesn’t work. Putting people in prison for using drugs is stupid, has never worked, and will never work. Arresting and jailing people for victimless “crimes” is also stupid, has never worked, and will never work. Oink!

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